RIPTA launches rapid bus service with R-Line

Buses on RIPTA's R-Line wear special branding.

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority held a ceremonial ribbon-cutting Friday for its first new rapid bus line.

Called the R-Line, it combines routes 11 and 99. The route runs along North Main and Broad streets, connecting both Pawtucket and South Providence to downtown Providence. Service actually began Saturday.

RIPTA said the R-Line will offer passengers faster and higher-quality service by reducing the number of stops. The buses also have technology that allows them to hold green lights.

"Instead of that 30, 40 minute ride, I took the bus recently and it was like 20 minutes," Chris Smith said.

But others said fewer stops makes riding the bus more difficult for the elderly and people with disabilities.

"It's an inconvenience for people like me when I have to use my cane to walk four blocks just to get to a bus stop," Patricia Carter said.

Scott Avedisian, RIPTA's board chairman, said the agency did a survey of bus stops to determine which ones to keep and which ones to drop.

"How many people got on and how many people got off," he said.

Before the R-Line, the two routes had 150 stops. More than half of them were eliminated.

At least one passenger said she thinks RIPTA made the right move.

"The stops weren't even a whole block apart and that's rough on the bus and the traffic," Denise Knight said.

RIPTA said the R-Line is expected to improve travel time by up to 12 percent for passengers in the 7-mile corridor. Buses run every 10 minutes during the day and every 20 minutes at night.

Other rapid bus routes are planned.

Buses and stops feature special R-Line branding.